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Thu., Jul. 31
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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Potsdam eyes $2.8 million budget gap

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POTSDAM - With a projected tax cap limit of 3.8 percent, the Potsdam Central District is eyeing a budget gap of $2.8 million.

Superintendent Patrick H. Brady said at this point that figure represents a budget that includes no fund balance or reserves, as well as a $600,000 wish list of items that had been cut from budgets over the past several years.

Among the additions currently included in the preliminary budget are a part-time English teacher and a counselor at the high school, a teacher aide, a teacher assistant, a certified reading teacher and the summer reading and math program at the middle school and a teacher, a pre-k through fourth-grade reading program and a math coach at the elementary school.

Other additions include a special education teacher, three special education teaching assistants in the middle school, two special education teaching assistants in the elementary school, two special education teacher aides in the middle school and two special education teacher aides in the elementary school.

The buildings and grounds department would like to add a part-time custodial worker and replace a 2003 plow/dump truck. The transportation department has suggested an additional bus run for the special needs program.

District-wide, Mr. Brady is proposing the addition of one keyboarding specialist.

Proposed additions for athletics include funding for the golf and cheerleading programs, as well as reinstating paid assistantscoaches for lacrosse, hockey, football and outdoor track.

Potential reductions in the athletic budget could include the elimination of modified teams at a savings of $50,000, junior varsity teams at $27,000 or modified teams where a junior varsity team exists for savings of $28,000.

Using budget assumptions, Mr. Brady said the district is looking at a budget of $28,733,895. That breaks down as $9,390,954 for salaries, $9,009,551 for benefits, $5,1123,780 for BOCES services, $2,691,196 for debt service and $2,518,414 for other expenses.

“This is really preliminary, but we do know we have a large budget gap to deal with,” he said. “What could change that would be any reserves or designated fund balance, additional aid from the legislature or any reductions.”

J. Patrick Turbett, who chairs the district’s finance committee, asked how much of the district’s fund balance and reserves were used to support this year’s budget.

Mr. Brady said $1.6 million was used, down from $2.1 million used to support the 2012-2013 plan.

At the next finance committee meeting, Mr. Brady and Business Manager Laura Hart will have fund balance projections, which could better aid the committee in determining how much fund balance to use.

By that time, Mr. Brady said he also expects to have a better handle on some of the district’s expenses, including BOCES costs following the release of the 2014-2015 BOCES request form.

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